From Hollywood’s Censor to the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes to media depictions of women in the Iraq War, there are several opportunities to hear a Columbia University Press author.
On Tuesday, February 5 at 6:00 pm, James Martel will discuss and sign copies of his book Subverting the Leviathan: Reading Thomas Hobbes as a Radical Democrat at University Press Books in Berkeley, CA.
In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes’s landmark work on political philosophy, James Martel argues that although Hobbes pays lip service to the superior interpretive authority of the sovereign, he consistently subverts this authority throughout the book by returning it to the reader. Martel looks closely at Hobbes’s understanding of religious and rhetorical representation. In Leviathan, idolatry is not just a matter of worshipping images but also a consequence of bad reading. Hobbes speaks of the “error of separated essences,” in which a sign takes precedence over the idea or object it represents, and warns that when the sign is given such agency, it becomes a disembodied fantasy leading to a “kingdom of darkness.” James Martel is associate professor of political theory at San Francisco State University.
The very idea that women can be used as interrogation tools, as evidenced in the infamous Abu Ghraib torture photos, plays on age-old fears of women as sexually threatening weapons, and therefore the literal explosion of women onto the war scene should come as no surprise. From the female soldiers involved in Abu Ghraib to Palestinian women suicide bombers, women and their bodies have become powerful weapons in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. In Women as Weapons of War, Kelly Oliver reveals how the media and the administration frequently use metaphors of weaponry to describe women and female sexuality and forge a deliberate link between notions of vulnerability and images of violence. Kelly Oliver is Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.
And on Thursday, February 7 at 6 pm, Thomas Doherty makes a rare public appearance in New York City at the New York Public Library Donnell Library Center to discuss his newest book, Hollywood’s Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration.
From 1934 to 1954 Joseph I. Breen, a media-savvy Victorian Irishman, reigned over the Production Code Administration, the Hollywood office tasked with censoring the American screen. Though little known outside the ranks of the studio system, this former journalist and public relations agent was one of the most powerful men in the motion picture industry. As enforcer of the puritanical Production Code, Breen dictated “final cut” over more movies than anyone in the history of American cinema. His editorial decisions profoundly influenced the images and values projected by Hollywood during the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. Cultural historian Thomas Doherty tells the absorbing story of Breen’s ascent to power and the widespread effects of his reign. Breen vetted story lines, blue-penciled dialogue, and excised footage (a process that came to be known as “Breening”) to fit the demands of his strict moral framework. Empowered by industry insiders and millions of like-minded Catholics who supported his missionary zeal, Breen strove to protect innocent souls from the temptations beckoning from the motion picture screen. Thomas Doherty is professor of American studies at Brandeis University.